Desire Shinings

Desire Shinings

by Natasha Becker and Mariella Franzoni, curators of Tomorrows/Today section

For In and Out of Time, Gino Rubert (Mexico, 1969), presents Desire Shinings, a project that continues his exploration of the sentimental world through the clever, imaginative and ironic lens of his figurative mixed-media paintings, which blend acrylic and oil paint with collage of photographs, objects and other materials. Mostly narrating stories of romantic love, passion and conflicts, the theatrical scenes depicted by Rubert are filled with magic realism and iconographic elements appropriated from Mexican visual culture and traditional religious iconographies.

Protagonists of Desire Shinings, the first show of Gino Rubert on the African continent, are a series of small-sized pieces from his “light paintings”- works in which a veiled scene is magically revealed from behind a curtain, when an hidden light installed in the back of the painting turns on. Works like “El traje nuevo de la emperatriz / The Empress’s New Clothes (2023)” – a painting whose title reference the Danish literary folktale to implicitly smack the pretentiousness and social hypocrisy of contemporary society and, specifically, of the Art World – stage a double-sided tableau, where a female figure winks seductively at the viewer and a curtain performs as the threshold between the seen and the unseen, the gateway toward the forbidden desire.

Like dioramas or miniatures of the romantic world, Rubert’s paintings seem to offer, at a very first glimpse, complexly illustrated narratives. Yet, the depicted scenes never tell a clear story. They rather conjure up ambiguous tales, impregnated with captivating mystery that only allude to intimate and sometimes disturbing situations and scenes in domestic environments, hence eluding explicit storytellings. They seduce us, like a trap, abducting us in a fascinated yet perplexed wonder, throwing us into a sensual world made of illusions, desire and fantasy.

Caught in a suspended time, Rubert’s paintings are like love songs rhythmed by the heartbeat of a heart crossed by burning passion. Intimately lyrical and deeply psychological, they arouse feelings of both oddness and familiarity. His characters stare at us languidly, indulging in seduction. They enable an aesthetic of eroticism that – echoing George Batalle – appears as a sacred time in which desire is mixed with taboos and cruelty, and where the individual experiences the primordial tension between eros and thanatos.

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